Oilers Sign Abney

In a draft cluster that features Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, it’s easy for an enforcer like Cameron Abney to get lost in the shuffle. A meandering season filled with injury and growing pains didn’t help, but a strong showing in the playoffs probably saved Abney’s status as an Oiler prospect. Can Abney help the Edmonton Oilers?


On his draft day, Stu MacGregor told us about Abney: "He’s a big kid who had a huge growth spurt in the last couple of years. A kid that has to improve skating, obviously, when you grow that much you’re going to have to improve your skating. We needed to try and get some physicality and he’s a young guy who we think is going to be a huge advantage for us."

Abney’s independent scouting report talked about a large frame, good fighter, surprisingly good skating ability and a hitter. Doing things to help win hockey games would be the major negative for him in any assessment that projected him into the future.

Abney had an uneven junior career. This past season he set personal bests in goals (7) and points (20) while fighting less due to injury.


Kent Simpson, commentator for Oil Kings broadcasts on Team 1260 had some interesting thoughts when we chatted on Nation Radio in late March. Simpson: "Abney’s playing some of the best hockey I’ve seen in a year and a half. I think the biggest thing that’s changed is he’s starting to move his feet.  He’s starting to realzie that if he moves his feet and makes a good pass he might get it back. It’s night and day the way this guy is skating. Early in the year he was a little to late getting in on the forecheck, but now he’s playing like the light’s turned on."

Abney was battling a hand injury for most of the season and there was also a much repeated theory that even when healthy the kid wasn’t going to get into too many fights because his reputation preceded him. It may be a blessing in disguise, as the young man appears to have devoted time to improving foot speed and thinking the game at a higher level. In his last 18 regular season games, Abney scored 3-7-10 points. As Simpson stated, a light appears to have turned on.


I think it’s likely Abney spends at least some of next season in the ECHL. Although the WHL is a strong junior league, the speed and size of the AHL has ground a lot of new pro’s into a fine white powder. 40 games in Stockton to adjust to the rigors of the pro game might be just what the doctor ordered.

Abney’s possible roles as a pro player (enforcer, tough winger with some skill) rely on his ability to move his feet and adjust to new challenges as he moves up the ladder.

He’s got an opportunity. Coach Tom Renney sent away Zack Stortini because of foot speed issues and the organization has only Steve MacIntyre (a UFA July 1st) as a real NHL enforcer option. Unless someone already in the system starts to fill that role (Alex Plante has been fighting more, as an example) there’s a major void. The quicker Abney learns his lessons in the minors the faster track he’s on for an NHL career.

The kid has a shot.

  • EasyOil

    To be honest, if in a few years he can be a combo of Smac, Zach and Jacques (that wasn’t intentional…), he could turn out to be very useful. I still wouldn’t have spent a 3rd rounder on him, but if he can be a player with Smac’s fighting ability, Jacques skating and hitting ability and Zach’s all-round intelligent game (i.e. not hurting the team, maybe even helping), then he could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Far more interested in this kid than I was a year ago. (although he still could turn out to be useless…)

  • Bucknuck

    Because so many folks were dumping all over the organization for taking him in the third round, I have always had a soft spot for Cameron Abney. I wanted him to shove it up the backsides of all his critics.

    Good for him in taking a step in that direction.

    • I was a critic, and still am, of the pick.

      For me, the problem with the pick is that it shows a misunderstanding of the market for players of Abney’s type. There is no reason to spend a 3rd round pick to draft a player that is unlikely to carry more value than the 3rd round pick he took to draft even if he pans out.

      I would rather roll the dice and try to find an actual hockey player.

  • Ducey

    A bit of topic, but I dont get all the crap scouts and critics were talking about Hartikanen’s skating. Its not fluid like MIke Modano but this kids not slow by any means. I mean look at the chances he gets evey game! He’s creating those with his husle and skating.

  • fuck off

    For all the critics ranting about his third round selection, you have to consider his ranking and that the Oilers were looking for that type of player at that time in the draft. Very likely they could have waited but WHAT IF they did wait and never had the chance to take him? Oh, that’s right, then the critics would shut up.

  • Ducey

    Saw him good at some Oil Kings games. He can skate, cycle the puck and goes to the net.

    He should be able to ride the range effectively as a fourth liner. ETA 2013-14

  • Krusher

    It’s great that he is 6’5 and still filling out. We can only hope of having a tough guy in the lineup who can play a few shifts a game and actually contribute.

  • Jean-Francois Jacques, draft year: 67GP – 12G – 21A – 33PTS

    Zack Stortini, draft year: 62GP – 13G – 16A – 29PTS

    Georges Laraque, draft year: 62GP – 19G – 22A – 41PTS

    Cameron Abney, fifth WHL season, two years after being drafted: 60GP – 7G -13A – 20PTS

    This isn’t going to be a fourth-liner who can play. He can fight, no question, and he’s shown that time and again, but he’s auditioning for a MacIntyre-type role, not the role of a guy who can handle a regular shift.

    • Peterborough

      There are late bloomers, it does happen that people develope in their 20’s. That being said: Those number don’t bode well for him being much more than a depth AHLer of or a liability forth liner/enforcer in the show. H.O.P.E. its the former and its not like we don’t have room down there to give him a chance.

    • O.C.

      Yes, agreed Willis.

      A player who is groomed to play maybe 5 min a game, max 40 games a year, is supposed to be a nuclear deterrent (i.e. detente).

      Never a plan as a scoring threat.

    • When are the Oilers going to realize they’re wasting so much money on staffing for scouting and player development?

      If you can sit out in B.C. and say with certainty, despite never having been near the kid, what Abney’s ceiling is by simply comparing him to the players you listed, why are the Oilers wasting all this time and making a fuss?

      May I pass your name and number on to Steve Tambellini?

      • I’m sorry, did I ruffle your feathers when I suggested that a kid who in five WHL seasons has hit the lofty 20 point mark once was never going to be a regular-shift guy in the NHL?

        Gosh, I guess I shouldn’t have gone way out on a limb like that.

        • O.C.

          I wonder how many NHLers have been in similar positions. How does a guy like Ryan Jones, who only played Jr B, make it to the show? Abney has grown physically in the last year, this will have an impact on who he eventually becomes. Odds are against him, but under the right conditions, you never know. He was chosen for more than just his fists, I am sure. I also remember that a guy like Chara, for example couldn’t even really skate, so why in the Hell would anyone want to even take a chance on him, oh right, he is a big guy….You can develop skill and skating, but you can’t develop size…I bet you in a couple years he will be knocking on the door….

          • In three of his four CCHA (40-game) seasons, Ryan Jones recorded more goals than Cameron Abney has points this season.

            A year after being drafted, in his debut WHL season, Zdeno Chara recorded 22 points in just 49 games, and added eight points in 15 playoff games.

            So that’s a forward who records more goals in fewer games than Abney has points, and a defensive defenseman who blows Abney’s point-per-game totals out of the water at the same age.

            I’ve been looking for a comparable to Abney in some earlier drafts. Just went through the third round of the ’60 draft – not one Major Jr. player, some of whom went on to iffy ECHL careers, had point production even in the range of Abney.

            Players who score 20 points in the WHL two years post-draft simply don’t go on to play a regular shift in the NHL. I’d love to see someone show me an example of someone who did that, because I’ve never seen it.

  • And to clarify here, on Abney: I shouldn’t have said this is a guy who won’t be a fourth-liner who can play, I should have said that’s the high-probability outcome.

    I don’t have a crystal ball to peer into the future, but I do know that the number of guys who score 20 points in the WHL two years after being drafted that go on to play a regular shift in the NHL is awfully small.

  • @ coco crisp:

    Two points:

    1) ‘Glass half full’ is an optimistic point of view.

    2) The reason we dump on players years down the road for not living up to our lofty expectations is because our expectations were so insanely optimistic to begin with. A reasonable expectation for a player with Abeny’s track record is as an enforcer. If he manages to beat the odds and exceed that, great, but there’s no reason to pretend he’s on pace to turn into Zack Stortini – a guy who was playing a top-six role and doing well at it at the same age as Abney.

  • Lowetide

    A few points: Abney was drafted far outside expectations and as such was an extreme reach pick. We saw those in the KP drafting era and I suspect it was an “organizational” pick since its outside what MBS does.

    That said, I’m hoping like hell that Abney can fill that role and was heartened by Simpson’s take. It appears the light did indeed go on a little and he might be a guy who has a pro career (maybe even NHL). Why am I hoping he succeeds? Because if he doesn’t they might use another high pick on an enforcer which is (as speeds says) a bad bet.

    So, in summary: the textbook for NHL drafting was written by Sam Pollock and he took Chris Nilan 231st overall.

    We should be THRILLED if Cameron Abney ends up with a career in the same ballpark of Chris Nilan. It’s more likely to be in the ballpark of Troy Bodie.

    And that’s fine.

    ALSO, his little run at the end is a point of interest. Can he post some crooked numbers? He did in his final 18 WHL games and he scored a goal in the playoffs.

    It’s an interesting side note, like “did you know that Cat Stevens sang background vocals on Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl?”

    It’s not THE story (enforcer signs contract) but it’s a point of interest.

  • RLH

    Even if he doesn’t make the show, I think that having that size and willingness to throw down in OKC is beneficial. Protection of the main-line prospects has merit as well, even if it won’t net you $700K/year.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        What’s preventing this kid from moving back to the blueline LT, to me it looks as though he may be better off with the game in front of him. His best shot at making it is as a blueliner me thinks.

        • Lowetide

          I think the Oilers have a job in mind for Abney. They drafted him, followed his progress and obviously liked him enough to sign him to a pro contract.

          We may not like the idea of a designated fighter, but Tom Renney is the coach and he’s always had one (at least in NYC and here).

          Abney has a clear track to the NHL as an NHL forward.

  • RLH

    You just never know, I mean look at LA’s rookie Kyle Clifford! Who’d of thought he’d be a regular 3rd liner in the NHL?? He’s been one of their best players in the playoffs!! Damn you San Jose!

  • Bank Shot

    Willis: Travis Moen is an example of a guy who never really put up any numbers at any level but has succeeded in being a regular NHLer. 16 points in his draft year and 27 points in his final year of junior.

    I do agree that the deck is heavily stacked against Abney though. Moen is a one in a hundred type and I’m not sure players like that make good comparables.

    Brownlee: Abney has almost no chance of becoming an regular shift guy in the NHL. I’m sure you’ll get to be good friends sitting together in the press box. So that’s good.

  • Lowetide

    This is completely off the topic and totally unrelated, but has anybody else been visiting the canuck fanblogs since last night? The level of rage, self-pity and self-loathing is approaching cataclysmic, and if they lose this series, I fear the outpouring of frustration will trigger the big one, and Vancouver will just slide off into the Strait of Georgia. Highly entertaining.

    • Steve Smith

      …our nation affiliate canuck army is all but silent as of this a.m. doug…i see ZERO comments on a piece cam davie did yesterday!!!that’s real fan participation out on the wet coast…did they all lay down in some pishposh mansion? shroud themselves in purple blankies and kill themselves waiting for the big space ship?

      that’s a confident bunch out there…while i love “paradise” for R&R i couldn’t handle being a season ticket holder there…waaay too uncommitted when the chips are down…wait ’til they lose game seven and the idiot ‘fans’ riot til the sun comes up monday morning …

      that’ll show them proud. lose canucks lose

      carry on the tradition

  • A comment….re Willis and others…

    those that cant become teachers…

    actors who cant act become critics…

    Why go on and on…Hes a long shot…so are most draft picks past the top 30 ..in the final analysis…

    make your point, then move on…the kid is still 10 years younger then Mac…will he continue to develop, who knows..but big kids take longer to develop..by and large..

  • Clyde Frog

    I like to look at the 5 picks after a player to guage how the team did, I figure although some-one 10 places back may have turned out to be the second coming of Jesus… Even if we didn’t draft our player chances are we would have taken one of the next 5!

    Fear not Oil fans! Only 1 player taken in the 5 after Abney has made the jump to the AHL, he put up a respectable 23 points and -11 as a defensemen. I imagine solid rookie numbers, but nothing on the magical Oh god! Why god! Who the F***k is Jesse Ninimakii!?!?! level.

    I imagine enforcers are hard to boxcar at the best of times, but he kept it to a decent -3 and 72 pims. If he has a decent defensive game, decent speed and good positional sense, I am not too worried about the lack of production for a fighting 4th liner.

    But I am under no apprehensions this kid will be potting 15+, picking 20+ apples and racking up 300 penalty minutes in a season.

    • O.C.

      Why would “made the jump to the AHL” be a main criteria – some of those guys aren’t even AHL eligible yet?

      73 OV was Abney. The next 5 picks were D Connauton (the D you mentioned, although you neglected to mention he had a 72 point season, as a D, for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL last season), D Deslauriers, F Eakin, D Button, D Bertilsson.

      Are you trying to tell me they Oilers wouldn’t rather have Cody Eakin than Cam Abney?

      • Clyde Frog

        Lol, I’m confused on your elegibility comment. These kids are all from the same draft year/same age. Well Connoughtan is actually a 90’s Birthday but that doesnt really matter.

        Cody Eakin looks like a sweet kid and put up some sick numbers in his 4th and 5th years in the W for sure…

        BUT he is 5’11 AND still under 190 pounds, so if the majority of Oiler fans are humming and hawing over RNH simply because of his current weight I don’t see how everybody would be crying over this kid.

        I can honestly see why this organization took their reach picks on a kid over 6feet and with other intangibles then being small and putting up points.

        Connoughtan put up some amazing Jr numbers, ok. But he didn’t repost them as a rookie in the A so why hold on to them at all? Patty O had that AMAZING AHL year, should we rush out and pick him up? Connoughtan had a good rookie season, I’ll give you that, he has middle of the pack size and looks like he could possibly make the jump in the next couple years.

        Sure the Oilers could have had 2 prospects looking decent on the numbers, but again weighting enforcers/4th line potential versus a kid who HAS to produce to stay in the line-up is an apples to oranges gig. I’m not crying myself to sleep because we don’t have any of the next 5 kids in our organization. If Abney can fight, keep the puck out his net, play 7-9 minutes a game and agitate the heck out of the opposition that is a win for a that type of pick.

        @ Madjam Never stop being please… Oh I love your posts, have you ever thought of becoming a hockey comedian? Have you ever noticed Nashville’s HUGE problem they can NEVER address is scoring depth? No matter how hard they try, they can’t seem to locate a decent scoring forward? Yeah there is a reason for that…

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    wheres the CORSI and sabermetrics? this hardly even equates to an article if it doesnt have behindthenet.ca stats in it.

    actually, the article is kind of scary about the kids up and down playing. it took him until this year to move his feet consistently as a hustle player? yikes. how intelligent is he when not with the puck? having Dummies around is a thing of the past. you either build your bottom 6 with mean, yet intelligent dudes or stop “rebuilding”. having Skill Soft Bimbos and a Punching Bag on a team isnt high end hockey.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    Nashville has remained a competitive team by drafting a lot of defencemen .Some say they have cornered that market in draftees and thus remain very competitive despite little offensive power . Their results over the years are impressive considering how much attention and money they spend on the rest of their teams . They have even less goals than we do most seasons , and it’s all because they covet drafting defencemen . Most ON feels, for some odd reason, that the Nashville template is not a way to start building our teams competitiveness . I say we get back and build the backend like Nashville , and draft heavily this season on our backend .

    We can always add the offensive pieces down the line .

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    I posted this during an earlier Abney debate and have yet to see a good response from the “he’ll never play a regular shift” crowd.

    Reportedly Abney is a pretty decent skater for his size and from a number of viewings he is a good fighter (I doubt Plante will ever be). As an earlier poster commented. If gets his skating up to NHL level (seems plausible) and he is smart enough for decent positional play what is stopping him from playing an effective 8-10 minutes a game even if the offense is not there? Comparing him to Smac at this stage is lazy and intellectually dishonest imo.

    For all the folks criticizing the management and scouting staff. I’m too lazy to search for the quote but remember an in interview with Stu during the draft (after the MPS and Lander pick) that they felt they had safe picks and were going to make a couple of reaches. I would not want to see it every year but they obviously it was part of the strategy.